The first season of Fargo was not only one of the best offerings yet from cable network FX, it was one of the best shows to air on any network, period. With that in mind, no one would have been surprised if the show’s sophomore effort failed to live up to the brilliance of Season 1 – after all, that’s precisely what happened with True Detective, another anthology series to which Fargo has drawn some comparison.
Instead, showrunner Noah Hawley ups the ante with Season 2 by introducing an even larger cast of characters, expertly weaving their individual stories into one complex narrative in the premiere episode, Waiting for Dutch. At the center of everything is Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), portraying a younger version of the character originally played by David Carradine in Season 1. Remember the “Sioux Falls Incident” that Lou didn’t like talking about? Season 2 of Fargo begins shortly before that event.
But before we get there, we meet Rye (Kieran Culkin), the youngest of three Gerhardt children, whose family controls nearly all of the illegal activity in the small Minnesota town. As another organization from Kansas City threatens to muscle in on the Gerhardt territory, Rye tries to set the wheels in motion on a plan that will get him out from under the shadow of his older brothers, leading to a grisly scene at a diner in nearby Luverne.
There’s also Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst), a sweet and bubbly hair stylist whose husband Ed (Jesse Plemons) works at the local butcher shop. While Ed hopes to take over the business and start a family with “a whole litter of kids,” Peggy is dreaming of bigger and better things that will take her away from the snow-covered countryside. But a hasty decision that Peggy makes while driving home late at night has unforeseen consequences for her and Ed, and threatens to draw them into a world that neither is equipped to understand, much less survive.
There’s a lot going on in Waiting for Dutch, as Fargo introduces the aforementioned major players along with a number of fascinating side characters, such as Nick Offerman’s conspiracy theorist or Ted Danson’s local sheriff. It’s dense, with plenty of moving parts and a few surprising and unforeseen character interactions, but paced just well enough that you never feel like you can’t keep up. Hawley once again offers a near-perfect blend of humor and darkness, complete with the feeling of “Minnesota nice” that was so wonderfully portrayed in the first season. With an unsolved triple murder and a brewing war between two crime families, there’s plenty to look forward to in Season 2, and we can’t wait to see what else Fargo has in store for us.